Website owner:  James Miller

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On censorship

The following are excerpts from a 1950 World Book article on the topic of censorship:

“Censorship is an effort by a government or private organization to keep people from reading, hearing, or seeing whatever they wish. It is most often applied to speeches, printed material, plays, and motion pictures that might be dangerous to the government or harmful to public morals. Works of art, dancing, and costume (such as the cut of a bathing suit on a public beach) are also subject to censorship. ....

Censorship of Morals. Censorship is carried on in limited fashion by government. The United States Post Office may refuse to transmit by mail any literature which the Postmaster General rules is obscene. Many cities in the United States have boards of censorship which review and may bar books, plays, and motion pictures. The film industry censors its own releases through the Motion Pictures Producers and Distributers of America, Inc. Most censorship of public morals, however, is carried on by churches or by other private groups. Books are reviewed for members of the Roman Catholic Church by the Congregation of the Holy Office. A similar censorship activity is carried on by the Methodist Board of Temperance and Public Morals. This type of censorship applies only to members of the group, but powerful organizations can sometimes put pressure on the government to ban the things which the group finds distasteful. Threats of boycott and other pressures may also force private firms not to publish or present materials to which a powerful group objects. Private organizations were once quite powerful in exerting pressure both on government and on private firms and individuals. The two best known organizations of this kind are probably the New England Watch and Ward Society and the Society for the Suppression of Vice, but there have been many others. ....

History. Spartan rulers prohibited certain forms of poetry, music and dancing in 500 B.C. on moral grounds. In Rome, the censors were state officials who took the census as well as checking on the morals of people. They prohibited plays except at certain holidays.”

Let me now ask the following question: Why would anyone wish to censor things that other people can read, see or hear? Why do you think that people through the ages have tried to limit what other people in their country or culture could read, see, or hear? Why would they care? Think about it. What is their concern? Does not the reason lie in their own intuitive understanding of the human animal? Is it not because they do not trust the minds and hearts of people, in general; that they understand the potential of the human animal for evil, wickedness and immorality? His weakness, gullibility, and susceptibility to spiritual error, moral depravity and foolishness? And that they wish to prevent their society from degenerating into deep depravity? They understand that one rotten apple can ruin the entire barrel and wish to prevent it. Let me quote Aristotle:


“For man, when perfected, is the best of animals, but, when separated from law and justice, he is the worst of all; since armed injustice is the more dangerous, and he is equipped at birth with the arms of intelligence and with moral qualities which he may use for the worst ends. Wherefore, if he have not virtue, he is the most unholy and the most savage of animals, and the most full of lust and gluttony.”             Aristotle

And on what basis do you think Aristotle made this statement? How about personal observation of people of his time and their natural tendencies? Their inclination toward savagery, cruelty, wickedness, gluttony, licentiousness, debauchery, and foolishness? How about the histories of various peoples, nations and cultures that then existed? And how about that introspective knowledge of oneself, of one’s own potential for degradation and depravity, that one acquires by looking within oneself? Modern man underestimates the ancients, their wisdom, their understanding. In Aristotle’s time he was a modern. And he had the benefit of hundreds of years of human history at his disposal, the varied experiences of many diverse countries, peoples, cultures, and political systems from which to draw conclusions.

The basic nature of man is the very same today as it was in Aristotle’s time. It hasn’t changed in the slightest. Man is capable of rising to the highest heights and of descending to the deepest depths. And the vast majority of people are far more inclined toward descending than ascending. Most men are far more inclined toward wickedness and depravity than goodness.

Let us suppose that we live in some country in our current modern world in which there is no morally based censorship of material (a condition probably closely approximated by most of the countries of the West today). What kind of material, under these circumstances, do you think most publishers would publish? They would publish mostly pornography. Why? Because that is what most people want most. Publishers are in the business to make money and that is where the money would be. What kind of movies do you think the film industry would make? They would make pornographic movies. Why? The same reason. And what would be the consequence of this flood of pornography? How about high depravity, homosexuality in high profile, high wickedness, loss of all moral knowledge? And isn’t that the position that most of the countries of the West are in today?

What conditions must need be present for a society to censor material for moral reasons? It takes men of moral character in positions of power, men of conviction who are willing to take a stand and act. And it takes a general populace that is morally sound enough to understand the reason for the censorship and support it. Unfortunately, these conditions don’t exist in the western world today. In today’s world the only hope I see is for those special individuals who have enough understanding to do their own censoring. I do my own censoring. I don’t look at pornography. I haven’t been to a movie since the early 70's and haven’t watched television since the mid 80's. In today’s world, in order to stay clean, you must almost become a hermit. And that is about what I do.

June 2016

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